Monday, January 30, 2012

Pressure of final year

Read the second blog instalment from Lizz @CityGirlDiaries, our G.R.A.D. reaching for her dreams, and learn how she re-focused her approach to graduate job hunting whilst in her final year. 

Ever had to battle with the crowd of noises in your head all at once? All these voices seem to get louder the closer you get to graduation; as you are about to face the big bad world of bills, rents and student loan repayments, (well the idea of repayments anyway).

This was the way I felt when I was in my final year and at this point I had received more rejection letters than I would like to think (my nostalgia only gets me up to rejection letter 50), and they kept coming with each click of the submit button. As if the prospects of revising for upcoming exams weren’t bad enough, I also had to submit an endless list of coursework and on-top of that put together a mind-blowing presentation on Financial Management.

The icing on the cake is that you are in the same graduate boxing ring with hundreds of other graduates and post-graduates applying for the same job/position, trying to meet deadlines and catching those early applications and at the same time proving you are worth taking the risk on. All of the pressures combined makes for a battle ground of thoughts, choices and many ‘I don’t cares’.

It was at this point I decided to throw the net wide open and change my preferred career choice and, needless to say, it was a long way different from just ‘Accounting, Finance and Banking. I expanded my career net to Media, Advertising, Fashion Buyer and Journalism.

At this point, proving that I could do any of this would boost my ego and made me feel good. I needed a job after graduating and it didn’t matter where or what sector/industry. That was my only objective. However this became a set-back to me getting any job as there was a real lack of focus which prevented me from being successful in any application (harder when desperation sets in).

My point of desperation: calling every other day to ask – ‘Your mail said you would get back to me on Monday, it is now Wednesday’. ‘I called on Wednesday, you told me to call back in the next few days, I wanted to know how far my application has gone’ (it was Friday). Desperation does not look good on a graduate.

It took a mentor, refined focus and learning my lesson in order to realise where I was going wrong, and what needed to change.

A couple of weeks into second semester, I was lucky to get a mentor via my careers office. He asked me tough questions about what I really wanted to do. After telling him my above career net he said my true passion came out most when I talked about ‘Finance and Banking’. I gave him the application letter and CV I sent out to my careers advisors and when I revealed the phone calls I made, I realised how crazy I truly was.

My mentor was able to give me a mock interview, look through my CV. He kindly told me to rephrase but strongly advises me to remove – in my hobbies section; “I like to go for walks at night in the city” and my love of “ice-cream”. Also looked through my cover letter and showed me how a simple change of words can make a big difference.

Not everyone has a mentor at easy reach, but careers advisors can help you with refining your focus. They can steer you in the right direction and also help with checking your CV or cover letter. You can never have them checked too many times.

Whilst refining my focus I also considered the option of a Gap Year and the pros and cons of taking one.

Pros – a great experience and I have always wanted to travel & looks great on my CV.
Cons – needs money!

Amid the pressure leave your options open to new possibilities you haven’t considered. Don’t worry too much; cosmos and fate are not against you! Self-pressure and worry can cloud your thoughts and focus. A clearer mind breeds refinement and focus.

Before I completed my final exams, I got an internship, and before the end of that I received a Chinese Government Scholarship to learn Mandarin.

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Friday, January 27, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

Welcome to the second instalment of the TARGETjobs news roundup, episode II, revenge of the jobs.
This week it was all about the IT sector, with some significant developments which could impact on your career plans.
But IT wasn’t the only sector hitting the news this week. Law, consulting and construction all made headlines:
For those whose sectors didn’t feature in this week’s news, don’t worry! There is still plenty of news and advice on offer:
This post was written by Ross Wittenham, TARGETjobs Editorial Assistant. 

To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the TARGETjobs news feed. Alternatively, check out the roundup this time next week!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Grad Fairytale

Read Elizabeth's motivational words to keep you going when the graduate job hunt gets tough.

When about to leave college and embark on university life, it usually sounds something like this; “Yeah, I might mess round and get my college degree” (courtesy of Bruno Mars –Lazy Song). University is a different stage in our lives that we look forward to with eyes wide open, waiting to jump in with both feet and take in all the experience it has in store for us. This was the Disney fantasy of university for the majority of us; Pre-recession, Pre-Financial Crisis, and any other negative connotation that ‘Pre’can be placed in front of.

Now reality has hit and we are forced to think about what happens after you ‘graduate happily ever after…’. Now incumbent under-graduates, final year students and graduates are living in Post-times. Everyday we are reminded about the little prospect of the graduate market. The devil on the shoulder appears with questions – “What is the value of a degree when I can’t get a job?”

Fear not! You can be your own knight in shining armour. (Trailer guy voice)

What is a G.R.A.D – Gradually. Realising. All. Dreams (very corny I know! – The media do a good job of the ‘Doom’ & ‘Gloom’ story, they don’t need your help, unless you are getting paid for it).

PERSISTENCE + DETERMINATION = Never Give Up. Remember you have slaved 3-4years, sacrificed being relatively rich for being broke all the time, with your daily diet consisting of energy drinks and Tesco value brand. The simple equation above will ensure that you keep your spirits high and keep applying for those positions that seem proverbial to you!

If you are in the creative industry – get creative with your application techniques. If you are going into a technical sector; know your industry well and all things affecting it and could affect it.

AMBITION. Keep it high. If your aspiration level has gone down a few notches, I suggest you get a rocky theme song going and raise it again! Keep your level of ambition high; it prevents you from settling for less. But remember – humble beginnings means starting from somewhere. Your ambition level will keep you fired-up to keep moving to where you want to be!

These were the two major things that kept me going when I felt I saw no end in sight. I knew where I wanted to be (In Finance & Banking) and I knew that I will not be given a corner office immediately, I would have to work my way there. I took up voluntary positions that had links with finance just so I can rub shoulders with the sector. I took up cold calling within an accountancy firm in order to see how it operates; just so I can be inside of the firm (cold calling and I did not go together at all). All of these experiences gave me insight into the sector but also into me, I knew exactly what I wanted and what I didn’t.

When I was told one-page CV was the way to go, I did so and made sure I had both one-page and two-pages. I tailored my CVs to all the potential and different employers that I was aiming for; from the big global companies, to the small boutique companies. I was ready for them! I allowed various people to check my CVs and give me feedback on them. Feedback on CVs never corroborate other people’s, but I took what I thought would make a difference to whoever was glancing at it in HR.

I became very friendly with my university careers office, I went to the events they put on and the society I was president of at the time tried to develop strong links and relationship with them. This meant that we knew about any jobs that was going on or being advertised within careers and also any other opportunities that may arise, such as mentoring schemes (so being mentored).

So I am a G.R.A.D, am still Gradually Realising All my Dreams, but I feel am closer. Keep writing those application letters, keep sending out the CVs and responding to job alerts (the only content in my inbox). You have to find the job, the job will not find you!

Post written by Elizabeth Adeniran, find her @CityGirlDiaries

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Friday, January 20, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the TARGETjobs news roundup; all of this week’s news from the world of graduate recruitment.
The sector generating the most headlines this week was law, with a pair of topical stories for anyone looking to move into the legal sector.
However, there was breaking news in other sectors too. For example:
Of course, these aren’t the only sectors graduates are looking to work in, and there was plenty of general careers advice too:
  • If you’ve been following our Facebook page, you may have noticed our series on developing your job hunt like a military campaign; useful if you’re suffering from low morale or fatigue. 
  • We also broke down exactly what a graduate CV should look like. It’s pretty basic stuff, but we get so many complaints from recruiters that it simply isn’t worth risking making these mistakes. 
  • Finally we hit you with the regular roundup of all things deadline. The big recruiter this week is Nationwide, which is closing all of its grad scheme applications on Friday 27. Check out the latest graduate jobs here. 
Join us this time next week for the roundup of graduate recruitment news, careers advice and developing stories.

This post was written by Ross Wittenham our Editorial Assistant. 
TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers ad career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Defying Convention

Michael Palmer tells us about his graduate job hunt journey: 

Doom, gloom, pessimism and more gloom. Whenever the subject of the graduate job market is broached in the news, it is done so with such an overwhelming sense of foreboding that it is very easy to feel disheartened as a graduate. I certainly felt a little overawed after graduating. The aim of this post is to give graduates a bit of encouragement by showing that it is nowhere near impossible to find a job in the current climate; it just takes a bit of dedication.

I will start by telling you a little bit about myself. I chose an academic subject that I hoped would demonstrate intellect and aptitude to prospective employers. It was only after completing my degree that I realised although I enjoyed completing my history BA; I didn't want to be a historian, museum curator or teacher. When I talked to people either at the job centre or my uni's career service, they kept trying to encourage me to go down these paths as I didn't have other experience.

I realised that if I wanted to work in my chosen field, I had to overcome my lack of experience. The industry I had chosen to work in was digital marketing. The reason I chose this field was because I have always been active online and have always had a slightly nerdy obsession with trying to keep up with current trends on the internet. I was fortunate to see two free digital marketing training courses being offered. I signed up to both of them and found them to be a great help not only in enhancing my knowledge of the industry but also in bulking out my desperately thin CV in a way that demonstrated not only experience but also passion.

Following advice I received on one of the training courses, I started my own blog. I set up the blog as a way of demonstrating my skills, remaining proactive and also in the hope that including my blog on CV's and covering letters would help my application stand out. Overall I must say that having a blog is certainly a tactic that works. It can also be quite empowering. When you keep hearing nothing back despite spending hours applying for jobs it is easy to become disenchanted and feel a little powerless. Personally I found that having my blog allowed me to stay motivated and positive as I would have to ensure I had done something new each week in order to have something to write about. In short, it can give you a voice in the face of the deafening silence you often hear from potential employers whilst job hunting. This can also be a really helpful way of channelling the frustration that builds up when employers act like the application you spent hours crafting did not reach them.

It was pretty much a month after I set up the blog that I found work. I Googled all my local digital agencies and sent them a covering letter and a copy of my CV and requested to be informed if any suitable entry level jobs came up. One company replied requesting an interview. I will be honest, when they asked “do you mind telling us a little about why you think blogging is important?” I am certain their eyes glazed over by the end but, in spite of this, I was lucky enough to be offered the role.  I do not want this post to appear like a graduate bragging as he has managed to find a job. I do however hope it demonstrates that if you are proactive, enthusiastic and motivated, you can still find work in the current climate, even without experience. 
Good Luck!

Guest post: Michael Palmer, Off-page SEO consultant 

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers, career planning tools and expert guidance. 
Become a TARGETjobs Blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to TARGETjobs Bloggers

Hello and welcome to TARGETjobs Bloggers. This is your chance to share your experiences, funny stories, and words of wisdom as a student or recent graduate.  Through TARGETjobs Bloggers you will have the opportunity to share stories and tips to help others in their graduate job hunt, in search for work experience or even help others to plan their gap years.

This is your chance to connect with us and each other and to start sharing. A little help can go a long way, especially in this recruitment climate.
We already have some great bloggers lined up for you, some have already been involved with us and I am really looking forward to reading their posts.

This week find out how Michael Palmer, recent MA history graduate from the University of Liverpool, bagged himself his first job as an off page SEO Consultant and defied convention on what you can do with a history degree.

You will also get to know Elizabeth Adeniran, finance and accounting graduate, as she tells us her story so far since graduating.

Another great post to watch out for will be Joe Levi’s blog, in which he will share his story about starting his own business, Student Money Saver, and the challenges he had to overcome.

We also have a journey to follow with Jos Canavan as she writes about her decision to embark on a career in marketing and how she is overcoming challenges and fighting hard to get into the sector.

Finally we have our very own Marketing Assistant, Louisa Smith, who recently joined after graduating from Warwick University. She will be sharing her story of how she got her first full-time job with us and her previous experience. 

I hope that like me you are excited to read these and many others. If you have something you want to share and want to help others achieve their ambitions or simply want to make someone laugh with funny anecdotes about your gap year experience, trials and tribulations of getting a graduate job or work experience, please get in touch with me at

Happy blogging. J

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers, career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs Blogger by getting in touch with me at